Back to Basics: How to Use Keywords in Your Content

September 18, 2020

Kerrie Ashall


Most people are only ever going to look at the first page of search results, with most of their clicks going to just the first three hits. Since keywords are used by search engines to decide who ranks within search results, it makes sense to optimise keywords to get as much organic traffic as possible. We’ve compiled a few practical ways you can do this below.

Firstly, a keyword is any word or phrase that describes your content. These are (or should be) the words that users type into a search engine, and they’re also the words that a search engine is going to use to index your site, so it knows exactly what to show people when they make a search query.

Knowing this, it’s clear what the overall goal of keyword use is to make your content seem as relevant as possible.

Devise a focused content strategy

It’s never enough to simple stuff content with keywords you guess are appropriate. Each piece of content ideally should focus on one keyword. The keyword discovery process can be done on your own or with a marketing team – look for “people also searched for” for some easy clues. You could also access your Google Search Console to find out what keywords people are already using when they arrive at your site.

Single word keywords may be more natural, but you’re facing enormous competition with them – try to think of some long tail keywords as well (for example, “best affordable wedding venues Devon”), to really hone in on your site.

Think about where to place your keywords

An SEO marketing team can help you with the technical SEO side of things, but you can get started by adding keywords to titles. A title summarises the page and is the first thing people will read. There are apps and software to tweak titles for maximum potential in search rankings (such as Yoast) or you can simply take care to make sure your keywords are appearing as early as possible in the title.

Meta-descriptions fall underneath headings in the search result, and need to contain keywords. You’ve taken the time to craft high-quality and value-adding content, now you need to summarise it clearly. You may also choose to structure your subheadings so they appear in a featured snippet or question box – these need to be very relevant to your content and the search query.

Your keywords obviously have to appear in the content itself. It’s worth being careful here, since unnatural tactics like keyword stuffing can actually damage your rankings. Use your primary keywords in both your title and preferably within the first and last 200 words or so of the text. If you can, keywords in the very first paragraph are even better.

Finally, make sure you have some keywords in your various subheadings, and also in the anchor text of your links – but try to keep it varied. Put keywords in your image-alt tabs, and in your website URL. Depending on your content marketing strategy, you may like to highlight keywords in any social media posts you make.

Decide on how many keywords to use

Aim for around 5 to 10 keywords per piece. To make this easier, brainstorm just one primary keyword and then think of some additional secondary keywords. If you’re unsure if you’re using too many, the test is simple – if the flow seems unnatural or forced, you need to remove keywords. Another rule of thumb is to distribute keywords so there’s one every 100 to 150 words, or about one per paragraph.

Use keywords naturally in high quality content

Your main goal with a sound content creation strategy is to produce content that is high quality and extremely relevant to readers. You need to appeal to potential customers while making it easy for search engines to rank you highly.

It’s your primary keyword that should appear in the most obvious and prominent locations, with your secondary and additional keywords appearing more dispersed throughout the rest of the content. When in doubt, always prioritise your human readers above the search engine algorithms.

Some keywords are just naturally more awkward than others, but you have some wiggle room and can use stop words to make things flow better. For example, the keyword “marquee hire Devon” can also be “Marquee hire in Devon” without affecting how it appears to Google’s web crawlers.

With these few basic tips, you’re well on your way to creating an effective keyword strategy.

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